Favorite New Films: Nostalgia for the Light

posted by The Joe

Documentarian Patricio Guzmán has made a career out of exploring Chile’s dark past, especially General Augusto Pinochet’s bloody political coup in 1973. First there was the three-part Battle of Chile, and then Chile, Obstinate Memory where Guzmán screened his previous film to students whose only knowledge of events were severely-censored government accounts and talked to the massacre’s survivors, as he would also do in Pinochet Case.

That brings us to Nostalgia for the Light. Expanding his view, Guzmán incorporates astronomers working in Chile’s Atacama Desert, where its complete lack of humidity makes it the most ideal place on Earth to view the cosmos. As they talk at fascinating length about memory and the past – how what we see in the night sky has long since happened – Guzmán also talks with women in the desert who dig every single day in hopes of finding the well-preserved remains of their loved ones lost in the coup decades ago.

This powerful work expertly weaves together its two story threads to provide context and meaning to the hidden history of Chile. It’s very admirable that Patricio Guzmán has dedicated his career to digging through his country’s past, and it makes for the best film I was able to see at the 2011 Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival.

(Nostalgia for the Light plays as part of the 2011 MSPIFF on Saturday, April 16 and Monday, April 18. Buy tickets HERE)


Friday, April 15th, 2011 at 6:55 am